HOW TO SET UP YOUR GHANA HOME
We all know that a house, or apartment, is not a home until you make it one. Having a comfortable sanctuary to return to after a hard day’s work in a new country is especially important. Dwell Ghana is here to help you achieve that. Read on to find out how to set up your home in Ghana with utilities, internet access, security, and other necessary services.
A constant and stable power supply is often taken for granted in developed countries, but in Ghana and other developing countries this is not a given, and it can take some effort and management.
Electricity provision in Ghana has evolved over the years. In the past homes connected to the national power grid used credit meters. An officer of ECG (the Electricity Company of Ghana) would come to read the meter of a home and then provide the household with a bill at the end of the month. Some older properties still use this system, but most homes now use pre-paid meters. Advantages of having a prepaid meter are that you are able to manage consumption to avoid waste, and prevent the accumulation of unpaid bills that may not have been delivered, or might have gotten lost.
To recharge your pre-paid meter you will need to use an ECG card (usually provided with the meter) to purchase units from an ECG office or vendor. The pre-paid recharging process involves:
- Taking the card to any EGC Office or vendor to purchase the amount of electricity you require. House hold appliances with high consumption (i.e. air conditioners, washing machines, etc.) should be taking into consideration when estimating your electricity needs.
- You are issued with a receipt after the purchase, which will state your account balance. Please note that every pre-paid meter is registered in the name of the property owner. So, it’s unlikely that you will receive a receipt in your, or your company’s, name.
- Units purchased are transferred automatically to the meter, or in some cases you may have to tap the card to the meter to transfer the credit on to it.
BACK-UP POWER AND FUEL
Most parts of Ghana, including Accra, experience periodic rolling power cuts, known locally as “dumsor”. In these times you will need to have access to a generator in order to receive electricity.
All executive level houses, apartment buildings and townhouses have a back-up generator. It is the responsibility of the management team of the compounds to make sure that the generators are in good condition. The bill for fuel for the generator is split between all the tenants, and you will receive an invoice for your share at the end of the month. This can usually be paid at the office of the management team on the property. Bills before your move in date are to be paid by the home owner. Tenants are to make sure there are no outstanding bills during the rental process. Also, be sure to let the management team of your compound know when you will be travelling so that your property will continue to receive electricity even when you are away for a long period.
For standalone houses, it is usually the responsibility of the home owner to make sure that the generator is in good condition, but it’s the responsibility of the tenant to have it serviced periodically and to refuel it. Most generators run on diesel fuel. This can be purchased at your nearest filling station using readily available plastic fuel containers.
Just like the electricity, the water supply in Ghana is not always guaranteed. However, thankfully, executive level properties usually have their own back-up water storage. Read on to find out how to manage both your municipal supplied water and your stored water.
GHANA WATER COMPANY
All properties that receive municipal water from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) have a meter registered in the name of the property owner. Bills are issued monthly, and payment is due within 28 days of the bill date.
It’s best to make sure all bills have been paid by the property owners prior to your move in date. Failure to pay current bills, as well as any arrears, may result in the termination of your water supply. Also, in the event your supply is cut due to lack of payment, a reconnection fee will be charged to recover the cost of reconnection, and a further penalty charge will be levied, which acts as a deterrent against non payment.
You can pay your water bill:
- At your closest regional or district GWCL office
- A GWCL kiosk. These are placed at vantage points in communities without a dedicated GWCL office.
- At selected banks, and some private collection agencies, e.g. Airtel.
Payments can be made in various ways:
- By cash, cheque, bank draft drawn on a recognised bank duly licensed by the bank of Ghana
- By standing debit order drawn on a recognised bank duly licensed by the Bank of Ghana
- By electronic payment duly licensed and recognised by the Bank of Ghana.
If you have made a payment, but it is not reflected on a subsequent bill, GWCL should be notified immediately together with receipt of payment as evidence.
WATER STORAGE TANKS
Commonly known as “Poly tanks”, these large round plastic outdoor tanks are used to store water to be used during water shortages. Every residential apartment/complex and most houses are provided with water tanks by home owners for tenants’ use. A pump is connected to the tank from the main water supply source in the compound so water can pump into the tank automatically when the main source of water is flowing.
The maintenance of water tanks are the responsibility of the home owner, as long as tenants are not responsible for any damage or fault that occurs during usage. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the water tank, water pump, etc. are in good condition when you move in.
Wireless network access in Ghana has expanded rapidly in recent years. 4G signal is now available in most regions, although it is not necessarily constant.
There are several internet providers. The most popular are Vodafone, MTN, AirtelTigo, Surfline and Glo. It can be helpful to ask your neighbours which network is the most stable in your area before choosing a provider.
There are two main options for receiving internet in your home, i.e. via a hard-wired phone line or fibre broadband connection (only available in select areas), or via a portable wireless router.
If hard-wired phone or fibre broadband internet has previously been installed and connected in the home, and you have the necessary details from the previous tenant, you may be able to reactivate the connection without any further installation being required. If not, you will need to contact a reputable internet provider to begin the registration process.
After choosing your preferred internet package, and completing the relevant registration form, the provider will usually conduct a survey to ensure that internet access on their network is available in the area, or building, where you live before installation is done. Payments for internet packages can be done at any office or retail shop of preferred internet provider.
In order to register for, and gain access to, a hard-wired internet service you may be asked to provide:
- a proof of identity (passport or ID)
- a valid resident permit
- a proof of a residential address in Ghana (proof of your billing address)
Portable modems, that receive data signals via a mobile SIM card, are easily available to purchase, and allow you flexibility as you can take them with you on the go, or when you move to a new property.
As registration of SIM cards is now mandatory in Ghana, be sure to take a copy of your passport with you when buying a modem. Alternatively, you could purchase a wireless router and turn your home (and office) into a wireless spot.
Different internet providers have a variety of packages on offer, as well as both pre- and post-paid billing options.
Post-paid billing usually involves paying monthly, and the means of payment (cash, direct debit, etc.) can be arranged with the provider when you activate the service. Broadband internet services are often post-paid.
Most portable modems and routers using SIM cards can be billed on a pre-paid basis. This works just as prepaid mobile phones do. The only difference is that, instead of paying for minutes, you pay for your preferred data plan. You can choose from daily, weekly, or monthly packages.
Data credit can be loaded onto your modem’ at any operator’s shop by loading credit onto the modem’s SIM card number, or you can buy credit from a street vendor and recharge the SIM card yourself by entering a code in your mobile phone, and following an electronic prompting procedure.
Alternatively, for your convenience, payments and your choice of your preferred packages, can be done electronically through a mobile money account (MOMO).
INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS
As of Q4 of 2019 some of the most popular internet providers in Ghana, and their key internet package offerings, are as follows.
- Different packages with 30 days validity.
- High Speed Internet on Glo mobile is connected with Glo 1 fiber optic cable with huge bandwidth.
- Access high speed internet from your handset, through a modem, a wireless router or any device which has a Glo data SIM.
- Daily, weekly, quarterly or monthly packages
- Monthly internet bundles from 400MB to 200 GB.
- Pay as you go internet packages. Upon exceeding or exhausting a bundle bucket before the validity period, you can buy another bundle or browse at the pay per use tariff.
- MTN residential fibre optic broadband service available in some areas.
- 4G coverage in some areas, that can be utilised with a 4G enabled device and a 4G SIM card.
- Different data plans with different validity period depending on how much data you buy.
- Unlimited plans : unlimited access to the internet for thirty (30) days with a fair usage threshold on volume of 100GB. Customers who exhaust the allocated threshold before the expiry of the offer continue to enjoy unlimited access to the internet at a deprioritized speed of up to 1mbps until their validity is due.
- Alwayson plans : Unlimited usage of a certain amount of data a month with 10GB daily allocationat maximum speed. Unrestricted data access. No roll over. Renews monthly.
- Broadband accounts with prepaid packages.
- Prepaid service “Vodafone One” that allows customers to pair and share data from the broadband to up to four (4) mobile devices depending the selected package.
- Vodafone Fibre ultrafast broadband package, offering speeds up to 50mbps delivered using state-of-the-art fibre optic infrastructure and available in selected locations across Ghana.
- Fixed Broadband Mini Bundles or Pay as you go rate. These enable you to stay online, even after you have exhausted your monthly package.
Most executive apartments, townhouses and standalone houses already have satellite TV services installed in them by the home owners. So, you would simply need to have the service reconnected and setup the relevant billing procedures.
The most widespread English-language satellite TV provider is DSTV/ Multichoice (from South Africa), while those from francophone countries prefer the French provider Canal Plus.
For homes that already have the installation and decoder, the only process involved is going to the nearest office or licensed dealer with your decoder card, or just the decoder number, to purchase your preferred package and set up electronic payments. Some people choose to make advance payments for their package for several months. Others prefer to renew it monthly. You may also have the option of including this service in your rent payment. The landlord is then responsible in making sure you are provided with your preferred monthly subscription package.
For first time installation you can simply visit any Multichoice or Canal Plus service centre to make arrangements for installation. You will need to fill in the required forms, or provide the necessary details, and make the initial payments for your satellite dish, decoder and package. An accredited installer will then be sent to your home to complete the installation process. They will take you through how to operate and choose your preferred package for viewing.
Base Packages for DSTV
- Premium (90 + channels)
- Compact Plus (70+ channels)
- Compact (65+ channels)
- Family (55+ channels)
- Access (40+ channels)
DSTV Add-on Packages:
- Great wall (5+ channels)
- Indian (15+ channels)
- French Touch (5+ channels)
- French Plus (10+ channels)
Canal Plus Packages:
- Access (79 channels, radio and services)
- Evasion (102 channels, radio and services)
- Access Plus (84 channels, radio and services including LES CHAINES CANAL +)
- Evasion Plus (107 channels, radio and services including LES CHAINES CANAL +)
- Tout Canal (131 channels, radio and services including LES CHAINES CANAL +)
HIRING DOMESTIC STAFF
Employing a domestic cleaner, housekeeper, nanny, or gardener (all collectively known as “house help” in Ghana), is usually based on recommendations by others, and sometimes through informal networks on social media platforms, or through formal recruitment agencies.
Once you have found a candidate whose skills and experience match your needs, and you wish to hire them, it is advisable to establish a probation period, and also have a written contract stating all requirements, conditions and expectations of the job and expectations of the individual. These can include, for example, work hours, salary, overtime pay, accommodation, medicals, leave period, grounds for dismissal, etc.
Please note that, in accordance to the Ghana labour Act of 2003, domestic workers are entitled to at least 15 working days leave in every calendar year of continuous service, and they are entitled to any remuneration earned before the termination of contract. Also, an employer of a domestic worker is legally obliged to register their staff with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). This national plan was established to provide protection for the employee in the event of retirement, injury, and / or in the case of death. It also recommended that you have your domestic staff undergo a general medical exam prior to employment, and at least annually thereafter.
There is no set standard, or way, of working among domestic staff in Ghana. So, it’s best not to assume that your house help will know what, or how, you would like them to perform their duties. To avoid any misunderstanding, be sure to spend time training each of your domestic staff in how you prefer things to be done in your household.
HIRING SECURITY STAFF
All apartments and townhouse compounds in Ghana have a security facility provided by the compound management team, which is part of the services delivered during the rental. If renting a standalone house, tenants are usually expected to arrange their own security. Some people prefer to employ independent security guards, but most opt to hire a security company who will provide staff as part of a service contract. There are quite a number of security companies in Ghana.
Some factors to consider when choosing a security provider are:
Take into consideration the company’s average response time. Their availability to provide instant support is very important. There are no compromises when it comes to the safety of you and your family. You should be treated as a priority.
It is very comforting to know that the security firm you are choosing is reliable. You can test this by conducting a number of meetings with the company before the hiring to be confident and sure about their dependability.
How long has security company has been in existence? And how many properties do they currently secure that are similar to yours? You might also want to consider recommendations from market experts, or neighbours, using the services of the same company. Alternatively, you could ask the company for a client reference and speak to their current client/s to learn more so that you can rest assured that you will get the best security services when needed.
Licensing and Insurance
The security company you are considering should be willing to supply valid current state licenses and show proof of insurance.
Your landlord is responsible for insuring the building and outside of your home in case of disasters by weather, fires, etc. You are responsible for the contents of the property, i.e. furniture, appliances, and other valuables. It is compulsory for the landlord to insure the building, but it is not compulsory for you to insure the contents. So many tenants do not insure their belongings, but this makes you vulnerable to the considerable expense of replacing your valuables in the event of a fire, theft, or other loss.
National insurance companies, such as Allianz, Enterprise, SIC and Vanguard, have a variety of home insurance options to choose from.
We hope that you’ve found this information helpful. Setting up your utilities and basic services is a standard part of the Dwell Ghana Settling In Program, which – like all our service packages – is customized to your needs. Let one of our professional team members walk you through what this entails by contacting us today. We look forward to hearing from you!